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Statewide History, Structure, and Issues


MPIRG, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, was founded in 1971 when students at colleges and universities across Minnesota gathered thousands of signatures to establish the first PIRG in the nation. Students seeking a voice in politics have organized to launch chapters at eight schools statewide, including Carleton.



Unique among the more than 25 PIRGs nationwide, MPIRG is entirely student-directed. Students organize at the campus level to establish chapters that work on the issues they are passionate about. Each campus chapter also sends elected representatives to the Student Board of Directors. This body, composed entirely of students, is responsible for running the organization and hiring the professional staff of organizers and lobbyists that aid student chapters in their activism.


How Issues are Chosen

At the annual Issues and Actions conference, students from all participating Minnesota schools get together to vote on MPIRG's statewide campaigns for the following year. Students on each campus may work on these statewide campaigns, or may choose to work on practically any issues they care about — whether these issues are national, statewide, local, or campus-based. We work on issues in the areas of environmental sustainability, social justice, consumer protection, and democracy.


Past Successes

MPIRG has had many victories throughout its history, in partnership with other nonprofit organizations. A few examples:

1973:  Banned the use of asbestos in new buildings.

1978:  Created the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota, including more than a million acres of pristine lakes and forests.

1986:  Established the Reinvest in Minnesota program.

1996: Passed truth in environmental advertising legislation.

2005: Created one of the strongest renewable energy standard in the nation, requiring 25% of Minnesota's energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.

2010: Passed “Complete Streets” legislation, which requires all new roads in Minnesota to be built with pedestrians, bikers and public transit in mind.

(See the PDF in the sidebar for more of MPIRG's victories.)


For more information

Visit, or e-mail Ben Hellerstein '12 or Elissa Walter '13, co-chairs of Carleton MPIRG.